‘It felt like death’: Mother, 31, shares her heartbreak after being forced to GIVE BACK the baby girl she adopted when the birth parents changed their minds after five days
- Sarah Howell, from Virginia, was given a less than one per cent chance of conceiving naturally after being diagnosed with endometriosis in 2017
- She and her husband Chris, 32, knew they wanted children, so they sought out help from an adoption agency
- Remarkably, Sarah defied the odds and got pregnant naturally – taking a positive test just one hour before being told there was a baby for her and Chris to adopt
- They wanted to push forward with the adoption, happy to have a big family, and in March 2018, when she was eight-weeks pregnant, their adopted baby arrived
- Sarah and Chris were overjoyed and took their baby daughter home – but five days later, they received the shocking news that her parents wanted her back
- Under the terms of the adoption, the birth parents had ten days to opt out of the adoption, however their decision came as a devastating blow to Sarah and Chris
- Sarah was left so heartbroken, she feared she would suffer a miscarriage, however she managed to deliver a healthy baby boy months later
- They have since adopted another son, Levi, now one, and fostered a third boy
A mother has revealed her heartbreak after her adopted baby daughter was taken away from her after just five days when the little girl’s birth parents changed their minds about giving up their child.
Sarah Howell, 31, a registered nurse from Richmond, Virginia, was given less than a one per cent chance of conceiving naturally after being diagnosed with endometriosis – so she decided to approach an adoption agency with husband Chris, 32.
The couple experienced double baby joy in early 2018 when Sarah discovered that she had defied the odds and conceived a child naturally – and one hour later, they received a call from their adoption agent, who said they had been paired with a newborn baby girl.
But just five days after picking their adopted infant up from the hospital and taking her into their home, the baby’s birth parents changed their mind, forcing a devastated Sarah and Chris to return their newborn daughter.
Heartbreak: A mother who was told she had just a one per cent chance of conceiving naturally has reveal her devastation at having to return her adopted baby girl to her birth parents
Upset: Sarah and Chris Howell, from Virginia, were thrilled to learn they’d been matched with a daughter in 2018 – but five days after taking her home, her birth parents changed their minds
Speaking about the heartbreaking experience of giving up the little girl they had so quickly fallen in love with, Sarah said that it was more painful than ‘words can describe’ – revealing that she was so upset, she feared she would suffer a miscarriage.
Sarah and Chris picked up their adopted daughter while Sarah was eight weeks pregnant on March 7, 2018, and they fell in love instantly.
‘When I walked into the hospital room her birth mom was holding her and lovingly placed her into my arms, she said, “Meet your mom, baby girl,”‘ she said.
‘We loved each other well and really cared for one another.’
But, after five days of family bliss, they received a devastating phone call.
The birth parents of their newborn daughter had changed their minds and wanted her back, which, under the terms of the adoption agreement, they were legally able to do up to ten days from the birth.
‘I was feeding her when the call came through,’ Sarah revealed.
‘I fell to the floor in despair. I kept saying over and over to my husband, “You’re joking, this is a joke right?”
‘I always say the pain we felt that day was worse than our three years of infertility combined.
‘Saying goodbye to her hurt more than words can adequately describe. It felt like an actual death to us because we knew we would likely never see her again.
‘She made us parents. She helped heal a part of our hearts that infertility broke. She made me a mom even if it was only for a few days.’
Incredibly Sarah says that she has no ill-feelings towards the birth parents who took back their daughter – and is actually grateful that they gave her the chance to become a mother to such a precious baby girl, even for just a few short days.
‘We do not hold anything against her birth parents,’ she insisted.
‘If we could, we would tell them how much we love them, and how lucky baby girl is to have them as parents.’
And while they still feel the heartbreak of that moment, they were given the opportunity to become parents once again just a few months later, when Sarah delivered their first-born child Noah.
The baby boy’s arrival was filled with joy for the couple – who faced a horrific infertility struggle in the early months of their marriage.
Just 11 months after they tied the knot, Sarah was diagnosed with endometriosis – having suffered horrific period pains for much of her life.
Grateful: Despite likening the experience of giving up their adopted daughter to ‘actual death’, Sarah says she and Chris have no ill-feelings towards the girl’s birth parents – and they were overjoyed when they became a mom and dad themselves to son Noah, who was born in October 2018
She was warned that her conditions could cause serious fertility complications – and that she should start trying to get pregnant ‘sooner rather than later’ if she wanted to have any chance at conceiving naturally.
‘It was devastating and sent me into a situational depression. We knew we wanted a family,’ Sarah said of her diagnosis.
‘My husband was more positive and was able to often view things from the bright side, but for me it was a major grief process.
‘Marriage counselling during this time was crucial and I don’t think our marriage would have withstood that low place in our lives without help.’
The young couple tried to get pregnant for three years, struggling through multiple surgeries and hundreds of injections, pills, and negative pregnancy tests.
In April 2017, they travelled to a reproductive immunologist in Chicago for a whole day of tests, but were again told that the likelihood of them conceiving naturally was less than one per cent, and that door was finally closed.
Sarah said: ‘Hearing our chances of conceiving were so slim allowed us to move on and begin the grieving process of possibly never experiencing pregnancy.’
She and construction project manager Chris decided then and there that they were ready to adopt a child. They had both always wanted to do it and spoken about regularly since they started dating.
They completed their home assessment and were added to the up to three-year-long waiting list.
But to their surprise, on January 31, 2018, Sarah felt a bit ‘off’ and took a pregnancy test.
She said: ‘When I opened my hall closet that morning the pregnancy tests were staring at my front and center when they are normally tucked away and out of sight.
Brood: Eager to give Noah a sibling, the couple pursued other adoption opportunities, and when their oldest son was one, they adopted another baby boy, Levi
Helping hand: The couple have now started fostering children, and are currently caring for a third baby boy
‘I had been going back and forth on whether to test before this so once I saw them I decided to go for it.’
It was positive for the very first time.
‘I sobbed. I cried so hard I could barely breathe. It really was the shock of my life,’ Sarah revealed. ‘I remember I asked myself a million times that day, “How is this possible?”‘
Seven months after the couple were forced to give up their adopted baby daughter, they welcomed their newborn son, Noah, who weighed a healthy 9lbs 6oz, and whom the couple quickly hailed as their ‘miracle’ baby.
‘It was surreal and felt like an out of body experience,’ Sarah said of her son’s arrival.
‘When I pulled him to my chest I found myself talking to God thanking him for giving us this miracle and making it to the other side of infertility.’
Eager to expand their brood and provide their son with siblings, the couple continued to investigate adoption opportunities – and just one year after their son Noah was born, they received another call from a social worker to let them know they had been matched with another baby boy.
They went up to meet the one-day-old in the NICU at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center, and named him Levi.
But this happy union did not come without the fear that he could be taken away just as their daughter had been before.
‘I knew I wouldn’t be able to prevent this so it felt vulnerable and scary to love a child again knowing they might not stay,’ said Sarah.
The Howell family decided to become foster parents to help more children, and took in a baby boy on June 29 this year.
Sarah said: ‘As a mom of three boys under three I feel like I am forever cleaning up messes, playing referee, and changing diapers.
‘I will miss this one day so I remind myself to enjoy the now. It is what we prayed for for so long after all.
‘Three under three is certainly an adventure and at times utter chaos. But the giggles, laughter, and joy far outweigh anything else.’
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